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My Stay in Manila, Philippines This Summer

My Visit to ManilaI had to save this post for last because we broke up our trip to Manila into two parts. We spent 4 days up front in the giant city near the Mall of Asia, and finally the last 2 days before going back to South Korea and ending our vacation. This was mostly because we have to go to a different terminal in order to fly domestically inside the Philippines. We don’t mind because it gives us a chance to hit the Pancake House, do some shopping, see all the changes that Manila has undergone since I was last there.

The last visit I ordered the key lime pie pancakes. It was a stack of 5 that made me want to cry as I took the first bite of what I can only describe as the most delectable food I have ever had the pleasure to enjoy. When I was telling the story later on to a co-worker I started getting a bit emotional. The memories of these fantastic pancakes are seared into my mind. I am so sorry that there are no pictures to prove this part of the story.

The traffic was heavy as it always is, but I expect that from the city that has millions of people, but this was due to the new overpass being constructed to the airport to reduce road congestion. Maybe I will notice the difference on the next visit. The capitol is desperately trying to modernize the roads as more and more jeepneys and buses travel them making it near impossible to have a fast trip to anywhere. I don’t mind since it’s an expected part of visiting Manila. This type of construction takes years and they are trying to mitigate floods by digging deeper to move water away from flood zones.

Flooding is a major issue if you are unaware of the issues facing a lot of the Philippines. Priority one for me in order to live there is to be away from a flood zone. I learned this lesson from Hurricane Floyd in 1999, NC. I bought a house and the 1st thing I asked for was a non-flood zone area. We were still 50ft above the water and my diligence saved us from a devastating loss.

We stayed in the same hostel we usually stay in even before we had a family. Back in 2005, I found a place called the Townhouse. It has 35 rooms and run by Bill and Lorna. It’s a simple hostel that travelers from all around the world can stay at for a very reasonable amount of money. We take their big room for 1,000PHP/night since there is now 4 of us traveling together. We could get something more western to stay in, but this place has sentimental value to us. It’s very hot there year round and that aircon feels very nice for my $20/night. If I was by myself I would opt for the traveler’s room for about $5/night. I travel easy thanks to the military.

As I mentioned in the beginning, I love this place called the Pancake House. They have 122 franchises from what the manager was telling me, and we did manage to find an iHop, but we still choose the Pancake House because they have some serious stacks. I chose the banana-walnut pancakes with soft butter and syrup. This stack of three hotcakes were amazing as you will be able to tell from the pictures in the gallery below. I brag about this place more than anything else in Manila. My wife hits the markets in Baclaran and the Mother of all markets in Asia…Divisoria. She gets the good deals and I stay home to enjoy quiet time and blog a bit. I am not allowed to go to Divisoria because I am white and my wife wouldn’t be able to ask for a discount. So if you travel like I do, stay home and let the Filipinas handle the shopping end of things.

I like to sneak out and roam around too. It drives my wife crazy but I am not really frightened by walking around and even if people yell, “Hey Joe!”, to me, I am far from it. I have collected a substantial amount of immigration stamps since 2005. I walk the streets and stop into shops during the day if I have the chance. The Filipinos don’t usually interact with me either so that’s not much of a concern. I rarely carry a wallet and if I do, it’s only a front-pocket wallet. Even before my first international trip I changed my wallet and forgot about the back pockets. Pick-pocketing is real, and has never happened to me. I am extremely vigilant of my surroundings.

 So over the total of 6 days we were there it was mostly spent at markets, the Mall of Asia, or running our laundry back and forth from the cleaners. Over the years I have been less and less enthusiastic about the city because of the pollution, poverty, and the unwillingness of the government to take care of the massive amounts of people that need help. The issues are far greater than what I have ever seen in the U.S. or any other country. Even VICE did a great video on some of the issues that I embedded below to give you an idea.

VICE has done other pieces that cover some of things the country is dealing with. It’s still a proud country with national pride beyond what I ever comprehended previously. In the U.S. I grew up saying the Pledge of Allegiance, listening to the national anthem endlessly for the past 20 years serving, and countless other propaganda-like American pride items. They pale in comparison to the national pride that is truly instilled in each person in the Philippines. It’s never forced like our putting our hand over our heart for the Star Spangled Banner. It’s just there, always. It doesn’t downsize our own experiences in the United States, it’s just the only way I can express the difference.

I love my country for all the good and even the bad. This country also gets my love for being so damn proud, regardless of repulsiveness some of the documentaries show. They are both home in my eyes. That’s my trip to the Philippines and I hope you enjoy this post, and the pics I took below. I have hundreds of photos I still have to upload so please don’t think, “That’s it?”, because it’s not.

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